The NBA is a fickle beast, once again. We knew that already though, right? We have to, as Raptors fans, because of the up-and-down nature of this team. Lineups change, effort is sometimes inconsistent, and the wins and losses come from who knows where.
This past week with the Raptors is a perfect summation of that reality. It was thought to be a light week, a mere three games against, first, two teams hovering around respectability, and then a talent-deficient squad sinking to the bottom of the conference. No problem, right? Wrong! The Raptors went 1-2. Yes, they demolished the poor Hawks on Saturday night to reclaim their dignity, but still: the sting lingers.
Now we must take stock. How do the Raptors fare this week in the power rankings? How are they being assessed? And is it fair?
We start first with the robot squad at ESPN. They’re not even putting a name on these entries anymore. Sad.
7. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
2017-18 record: 12-7
The Raptors snapped a two-game losing streak thanks in part to a big second quarter against the Hawks on Saturday. Toronto outscored Atlanta by 25 points in the second period, the third-largest differential in a quarter in team history. Two of their three largest point differentials for a quarter have come against the Hawks. -- ESPN Stats & Information
I kept the author information in there because I wanted you to see it for yourselves. “ESPN Stats & Information” have dutifully provided us with this little nugget, and boy are we better for it. Thanks robot overlords!
(But seriously, where is Jose De Leon when you need him?)
7. Toronto Raptors (12–7) - Last Week: 4
DeMar DeRozan has lost his scoring touch lately, and as he goes, so does the team. During Toronto’s second-half collapse against the Knicks, he attempted just three shots and missed each one. That just won’t cut it.
We need to do an in-depth analysis on this: is it true that DeRozan has usurped Kyle Lowry in the “As He Goes, So Go The Raptors” Rankings? Someone get me a new column, stat.
(Would it shock Ducey to know that DeRozan attempted just five shots in the game against the Hawks and that Toronto won by, uh.... 34 points?)
Heads up for number three, the doctor will set us straight. Here comes the Schuh, man(n) of NBA dot com. Respect:
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Pace: 99.9 (15) OffRtg: 109.9 (3) DefRtg: 102.5 (10) NetRtg:+7.4 (3)
The Raptors have had the league's worst third-quarter defense (115 points allowed per 100 possessions), and their offense was equally bad as they were outscored 72-30 in third quarters in New York and Indiana on Wednesday and Friday last week. They're without Delon Wright for a while, but haven't needed to go back to staggering the minutes of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, because Fred VanVleet continues to give them good minutes off the bench. He hasn't shot particularly well, but has the best plus-minus on the team, having gone 14 straight games without the opponent outscoring the Raptors with him on the floor. The Raps continue to have the league's best aggregate bench NetRtg (plus-12.1).
Who knew [checks paper] Fred VanVleet was the key!
Finally, though we can no longer continue our (completely silly, and unremarked upon) feud with CBS Sports’ Matt Moore, let us instead pick up the torch for his replacement, Chris Barnewall.
10. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Toronto's benches are dominating other benches so easily that the Raptors starters all have lower on-court net ratings than the bench players behind them. That despite only Jonas Valanciunas rating as a negative presence on the court.
The rollercoaster ride continues — up! down! forward! backward! Are we talking about the Raptors’ ranking here or the play of Valanciunas? You know what, let’s save that drag for tomorrow and instead end on a high note: the Raptors bench is fun and good and we are truly blessed.
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 6 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, a 28-0 run to the Knicks is like winning the lottery while getting struck by lightning
Yes, weird things happen, but the Raptors at the relative bottom of the top feels fair
No, I am part of JV Hive
Yes, I am ALSO part of JV Hive